Switch Island – Highways England seem to have stopped celebrating it

Most folk do not walk or cycle around the now infamous Switch Island where the M57 & M58 Motorways join with the A59, A5036 and the new(ish) Brooms Cross Road but it’s quite possible and even safe to do so. Indeed it’s probably safer than driving around it based on the almost daily road traffic accidents that happen there. However, if you do walk or cycle it you will come across this large boulder with 2 metal plaques set into it:-

The plaques record the 1st and 2nd phases of the reconstruction of the junction in 1998 and 2006. But what about the other phases? I think there have been 2 additional ones – one when Brooms Cross Road was joined to it and then very recently when major re-signage and safety changes were made. Now it could be that austerity means there’s no money for additional plaques, or the boulder’s not big enough for additional ones, or despite all the phases and changes the damn thing (the island not the boulder) is a bit of an embarrassment to Highways England so they are trying to keep a low profile? All 3 are, I’m willing to believe, potentially the case of course.

Click on the photo to enlarge it

Switch Island – The accident hot spot where the obvious seems to have been all but ignored?

I’m probably getting near to doing this one to death but with Highways England having just spent a few £m on ‘upgrading’ it for safety reasons I’m struggling to see how they have effectively tackled speeding.

To my mind, one of the major issues at this junction has always been the approach speed of vehicles coming off the M57. Yes, I know that unfamiliarity with the junction (by infrequent users) and the complexity of it leads to accidents as well due to drivers veering from lane to lane. And it seems to be this aspect that Highways England has tried to address with new signage (although some say it has made things worse), lane lights etc. BUT the vital speeding aspect has seemingly been ‘addressed’ by just putting up large (and largely ignored) 50mph and 40 mph signs towards the end of the M57. That they are ignored is sadly a given.

The other day I was traveling from Maghull to the Aintree Retail Park so had to cross the end of the M57. As I waited at the lights to cross the M57 traffic two cars literally flew past at goodness knows what speed and the drivers must have been banking on having green lights right through to the junction and onto Brooms Cross Road because the speed they were going meant there was no way they were going to be stopping.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the M57 needs speed cameras at the end of it just like the M62 has at the Liverpool end just before the Rocket junction. So the question Highways England is why has this obvious safety aspect been ignored?

Oh and by the way, having spent all that money how come a street lamp has not been moved out of the middle of the cycle path yet around Switch Island? Highways England were informed of the need to sort this out well before they started the project by me and indeed by Sefton Council’s Rights of Way Officer.

Over to you Highways England…………

With thanks to Keith Page for the lead to this posting

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Switch Island – Lots of public money spent BUT will it be any safer?

Anyone who tries to negotiate the hugely complex Switch Island will have seen that the recent upgrade/safety works by Highways England have all but been completed. The big question now is will it be any safer?

I’ve commented on this matter many times before as both a driver and indeed as a cyclist as I have witnessed driver behaviour.

To sum up, the problems as I have seen them are:-

* Too higher speeds approaching the junction
* Red light running/jumping
* Confused drivers veering from lane to lane
* Impatient regular users not allowing for the confused/lost drivers

One issue that comes quickly to mind is that towards the end of the M57 the speed has recently been reduced to 50mph and then even nearer to Switch Island to 40mph. That these new speed restrictions are almost completely ignored, you will not be surprised to hear, is pretty much all of the time. Indeed, the other day I reached the 50mph section, I slowed to 50 mph and had a horn blown at me because I had slowed down a fellow driver! My point being why are there not speed cameras on the approaches to Switch Island like at the end of the M62 as you near the Rocket in Liverpool?

Oh and another thing, this time from a cyclists perspective. Why have the street lamps which foul the cycle path around one part of Switch Island not been re-sited? Highways England have known about the problem for quite some time now:-

Cycle Routes – They are generally poor

The BBC has the article on its website – see link below

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46179270

As a cyclist, I find this article interesting and to the point. I’ve commented before along the similar lines by highlighting local cycle route inadequacies which I have encountered.

Often segregated cycle routes do not have logical ends and are in effect bits and pieces between destinations. The route from Switch Island to Ormskirk along the busy A59 is an example. From Switch Island to the Maghull boundary there’s a brand new cycle path but it stops well short of Liverpool Road South. Yes, I know that Sefton Council intends to address this but really it should have been done in tandem with Highways England doing the first stretch.

But then moving north through Maghull & Lydiate a safe cycle route has yet to be sorted out. It’s either the busy dual carriageway or pavement for cyclists.

A59 Cycle path becomes narrow pavement at Robins Island.

Then at Robins Island, a cycle path appears again, on both sides of the A59. Generally, it is in good condition but parts of it are not – patches of grass, poorly completed surface repairs & tree roots make the later stages of these cycle lanes poor. But then as you climb into Aughton the cycle route peters out altogether just like through Maghull & Lydiate. This makes the last mile or so into Ormskirk a cycling challenge.

This was the state of the Cheshire Lines Path through Great Altcar Civil Parish in the winter of 2017 – it’s not got any better.

I could illustrate other problem routes where cycling facilities in Sefton and West Lancashire are inadequate but will settle for just one. The Cheshire Lines Path/Trans Pennine Trail. This former railway track is in very poor condition through West Lancs because since it was created there has not been the regular maintenance that is clearly required. Some of the route is now really only suitable for mountain bikes and a once wide path where cyclists could pass each other is presently very narrow in places.

There is much to do to make our cycling routes safe, logical and well maintained.

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting

A59 Cycle Path – Switch Island to Robins Island

A59 Cycle path becomes narrow pavement at Robins Island.

I’ve mentioned before my desire to see a safe cycle route through Maghull and Lydiate from Switch Island to Robins Island and I took the matter up with Sefton Council Highways. This is what they had to say:-

‘We have actually identified this as an issue and are pursuing a proposal to develop a cycle route between Switch Island and Robbins Island as one of our priorities. We have secured funding for the initial section which will link Switch Island to the service roads to the north of the Dover Road/ Liverpool Rd junction through the local growth fund(LGF), this should be delivered over the next 18 months. We have a separate bid for funding which is currently on a reserve list for schemes to be funded through the LGF which would extend this further from Hall Lane to the Eastway/ Westway junction and once this has been secured will be seeking to extend the route up to Robbins Island, once funding opportunities arise.’

Cycle path under construction between Switch Island and the River Alt along the A59 – April 2018. This section now complete.

Some good news here and the first section, funded by Highways England (see second photo), is now complete but clearly it is likely to be some years before the whole missing section of cycle track alongside the A59/Northway through Maghull and Lydiate is completed. Let’s hope for as quick a construction period as possible in these most uncertain and cash strapped times.

Switch Island – Why put a lamp post in the middle of a narrow cycle path?

Alternatively, why paint guidance markings for a cycle path so that cyclists can’t actually use the path because there’s a lamp post in the middle of it?

The following photos have been sent to Highways England who are responsible for Switch Island in the hope that they will consider addressing the error of their ways.

You see it’s not just vehicles that are led a merry dance around this infamous traffic island/junction.

Stop Press:- The Liverpool Echo picked up on this story – www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/asked-lamp-post-been-placed-14834626